The new lateral numbers are out and there is a lot of movement among lawyers in the largest firms.

Still fueled by last year’s collapse of Dewey & LeBoeuf (when nearly 300 partners flooded the market), the Am Law 200 posted its highest number of lateral moves in over three years. The American Lawyer Magazine’s latest lateral survey found that 2,691 partners left or joined Am Law 200 firms during the 12-month period. That was a 9.7 percent increase from the previous year, when 2,454 partners switched firms, and a 33.6 percent increase from 2010. (The numbers for 2011 were boosted in part by another big-firm failure, Howrey, which sent over 200 partners into the lateral market.)

The data suggests what we have seen over the past few months: that now is a great time to consider a lateral move as the law firm shakeups continue. We believe this trend will also trickle down to mid-sized and smaller firms outside of the AMLAW 200, as some partners are defecting from the big firms for more reasonable bill rates and origination expectations (a trend that is not tracked by the AMLAW study).

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